DANNY SAYS: A Portrait Of The Man Behind The Experimental Bands

Magnolia Pictures brought important documentaries like Blackfish and Food, Inc to the public at large, and now they’re bringing us Danny Says. While Danny Says might not be an activist film meant to make an impact on our present day lives and the world we live in, Danny Fields made a huge impact on the world of music from behind the scenes – and this is his story, directed by Brendan Toller.

Experimenting With Rock n Roll

As a fan of documentaries, biographies and music, this film was right up my alley. I was captivated from the beginning and it held my interest the whole way through, as I enjoyed hearing all the stories Danny and friends shared. Danny is a big personality with a lot to say about everything and everyone.

It starts off with a brief introduction of Danny’s childhood and family life up to the college years, where he discovered himself, sexually. He soon realized he didn’t fit in where he was, quit the life his family had expected of him, and went off to follow his own path. This led to him hanging around in the same circles with Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, and the Velvet Underground. And this is only the beginning.

DANNY SAYS: A Portrait Of The Man Behind The Experimental Bands
source: Magnolia Pictures

He later went on to cause trouble for the Beatles. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Beatles “bigger than Jesus” scandal which nearly destroyed their careers and had the bible belt in an uproar. Well, Danny Fields proudly takes credit for being the one who put that line in print. He goes on to talk about how his best friend was Linda Eastman, who later married Sir Paul McCartney, and Danny recounts the time he told Paul he was the one responsible for that mess, as he laughs with amusement at his own doings – he admittedly wasn’t a big fan of the Beatles.

The Things Danny Said…

Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records and Danny’s former boss, is one of the interviewees in the film, talking about how he trusted Danny’s unique tastes in experimental artists but eventually had to let him go when things got a little too crazy.

Not just anybody has a story to tell about how they once kidnapped Jim Morrison and fed him lots of LSD. That’s a story to tell the grandkids (if there were any)! And it finishes up with the reincarnated soul of Jim Morrison, now living in the dog, vomiting all over Danny when he went to pay his respects to Patricia Morrison.

Danny managed the Ramones, signed MC5, and their “baby brother band” who was on tour with them when Danny discovered them, The Stooges. Iggy Pop, looking and sounding sharp, is one of the interviewees recounting memories of his times with Danny. Danny retells the story of introducing Iggy to David Bowie and how they hit it off and quickly began talking about music, the one thing Danny hated most in the world at this point. Iggy laughs about how they did a lot of things to blacken Danny’s reputation.

DANNY SAYS: A Portrait Of The Man Behind The Experimental Bands
source: Magnolia Pictures

Danny comes off as a bit rough around the edges, jovial and amused at his past stories. Lurking beneath the surface he shows glimpses of a softer side when reflecting upon what it was like to be an openly gay man in the ’60s, or how many of the people he knew are dead. Considering the amount of drugs he did back then, if these are the stories he remembers, can you imagine the ones he forgot?

Down To The Technicalities

If you’re looking for crisp and clear footage, with perfect audio, lighting and consistency, much like the artists Danny was responsible for, you’re not going to find that in Danny Says. It might be a little sloppy in some of the technical areas. It was obviously shot in multiple locations, over a period of time, as Danny shows aging in the footage as it jumps from one story to the next.

DANNY SAYS: A Portrait Of The Man Behind The Experimental Bands
source:  Magnolia Pictures

There’s an irony in that a documentary about a man behind the rockstars doesn’t have perfect sound, but it’s rock ’n’ roll, so it’s forgivable, possibly even intentional. After all, not all filmmakers are perfectionists – some just want to focus on their subject and story without worrying too much over the small details. The only time it works well is in certain documentaries. In Danny Says, it gets a pass because the subject matter is so fascinating that these details can be overlooked.

In Conclusion

If you like music documentaries or are a fan of any of the bands mentioned, watch this documentary. If you like biographies about interesting people, watch this documentary. And the next time you listen to The Ramones or The Stooges, just remember – if it weren’t for Danny Fields, we might not have their music to enjoy today. (Thank you, Mr. Fields!)

Do you have any favorite stories about your favorite bands?

Danny Says is available now on Amazon.

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